Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Jun 30, 1999 10:01 AM

Starbucks Alternatives

  • d

Greetings. I hope this is a legal post for this
forum...I am attempting to assemble a comprehensive
list (by neighborhood) of Starbucks alternatives in New
York City (the general theory being that any hope of
cafe culture in New York City is being squashed by the
domination of Starbucks). My primary focus is
Manhattan, which seems to be the most seriously
challenged borough (particularly places like the Upper
West Side).

My request: If people have favorite cafes/coffee
houses, ones that they really really love, and
preferably ones that are little known, could they let
me know (either here or in private email)?


-Dan S.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Samad's, a place on 111th & B'way has the smoothest
    most fabulous coffee in the neighborhood. When we go
    on a trip we take pounds of their coffee with us
    because there is nothing better. Only half a block
    from a new Starbucks, we frequently deter our
    neighbors who (unbelievably) have not "discovered"
    Samad's. Yes, the cash register guy is a bit surly
    and takes your money and whips your giant lemon poppy
    seed muffin in a bag before you can blink, but the
    coffee is worth it. Seating consists of a bench
    outside with plenty of people-watching opportunities.
    They also have great homemade tabouli as well as
    olives (amongst many other standard & sort of unusual

    2 Replies
    1. re: E. Cornell

      Can you also recommend their decaf?

      1. re: E. Cornell
        Frank :Language

        Funny, I've also had people stare at me in wonder when
        I tell them I *refuse* to go to a Star%$&#s. And no
        matter what certain people on this board may say, I'm
        loyal to Veselka: they have reliably good (Colombian)
        coffee, very good baked goods (I get a muffin there
        almost every day), and a fairly relaxed atmosphere -
        but I avoid the place on weekends.

        If I wanted similar coffee to Starbuck's (French roast)
        and similar attitude (snotty), I'd probably sooner go
        to Limbo on Avenue A between 2nd and 3rd. But lately if
        I drink coffee at all, I make it at home, where I can
        grind it myself.

      2. p
        Patrick Keilch

        My favorite coffee in Manhattan is from Oren's Daily
        Roast. Although it is a small chain itself, it is
        better than Starbucks and much better than places like
        Timothy's. They have a few locations, the one I
        usually go to is on Waverly Place just east of
        Washington Sq. There are also branches on the upper
        east side (70 or 71 and Lex) and low 50's just east of
        5th Avenue. They have a lighter roast than Starbucks
        and you can really taste the difference between their
        different coffees. Although it is expensive, their
        Mocha Mattari is one of the better coffees I've had.
        The brewed coffee in the stores is almost always good
        and they do have espresso drinks. They are opening a
        new store in Grand Central Station which is great news
        for me.


        Patrick Keilch

        1. In the Village/Union Square area:
          On 13th St. between University and 5th is one of my
          favorite places, Thé Adoré, a little French café run by
          Japanese, who prepare sandwiches with the same care and
          precision as Japanese cuisine. They have excellent
          coissants, respectable coffee, and an extensive list of
          teas- brewed loose teas, which are served in individual
          pots. It's tiny (you literally walk into the kitchen),
          and there's a small seating area upstairs. It's around
          the corner from a Newsbar on University- another chain
          which is covering Manhattan with utter mediocrity.
          Also- not really a café, but City Bakery on 17th
          between Union Square and 5th is another good
          alternative to both Starbucks (there's a hideous one
          across the park in Zeckendorf Towers) and the over-
          priced, relatively poor offerings at Dean and Deluca on
          University. City Bakery purchases most of its produce,
          milk etc. from the Greenmarket, and makes excellent
          prepared food, albeit expensive. They also have coffee,
          etc. and an excellent breakfast "bar".
          Good luck, as I hope more people patronize their
          independently owned places, as New York is starting to
          look like Anywhere USA (I never understood the appeal
          of Starbucks, which to me makes over-roasted, overly
          acidic coffee.